Should I buy a guitar on Black Friday?

Should I buy a guitar on Black Friday?
(Image credit: Future)

Black Friday is now as much a part of the winter shopping calendar as those last-minute present dashes on Christmas Eve. For us guitarists it's an exciting time as retailers compete for our hard-earned cash with mouth-watering Black Friday guitar deals, and offers and discounts on the best electric guitars and other sought-after guitar gear. 

While you may associate Black Friday with footage of people fighting in supermarkets over discounted large-screen TVs, it’s now as much an event in the online world as it is in person.

For musicians, Black Friday is a pretty amazing time to stock up our studios and live rigs too. Music retailers are famously hesitant when it comes to offering big discounts during regular shopping periods, but come Black Friday you’ll find deals on guitars, amps, pedals and all the other equipment you need to refresh your setup. In this guide to shopping for a guitar on Black Friday 2020, we’ll aim to highlight some of the things to look out for, and offer some idea of the types of deals you may see this year.

5 reasons to buy a guitar on Black Friday

  1. Price, price, price
    Put simply, the past few years should give you confidence that the deals we see offered by retailers on Black Friday will tend to be among the most generous/tempting you’ll see all year. Even more so in 2020, with retailers suffering at the hands of the pandemic. Year-on-year sales for the vast majority of retailers in any segment have been hit hard, and a strong winter is crucial. Expect to see significant price drops, bundle deals and clearance offers as stores try to make way for next year’s stock.
  2. Timing
    Even in ‘regular’ years, retailers tend to wait until Black Friday and the festive season to offer their best deals. What we’re seeing more and more, however, is sites starting to reveal offers before the day itself. Partly this drums up interest ahead of Black Friday itself, but the benefit to you is that you could find yourself opening up some shiny new gear before anybody else. Nice.
  3. Shopping with confidence
    Black Friday may give the impression of being a bit of a free-for-all fire sale, but your consumer rights are still intact. Online retailers all have solid returns policies, so you can shop in the same way you did before. Find yourself opening a box you wish you hadn’t ordered? Simply send it back – providing you’re in line with the retailer’s returns policy. And, as you’d expect, we’d only promote retailers who we know can be trusted to do right by you.
  4. Look for ‘halo deals’
    If the specific product you want isn’t subject to Black Friday reductions, fear not. With retailers so keen to ensure a profitable return, you may find them more amenable to offering discount codes, or free shipping, or even chucking in a set of strings. It all helps, right?
  5. The thrill of the chase 
    As guitarists, we’re all partial to keeping an eye on that next piece of gear. Maybe the missing piece of your pedalboard puzzle, or the amp that’ll finally realize the sound in your head. On Black Friday you have the best opportunity you’ll get to treat yourself to an impulse purchase, safe in the knowledge the price is likely to be as good as it’s been all year. 

Should I wait for better deals?

Guitars lined up on the wall of a guitar store

(Image credit: Future)

This is a difficult one to answer; on one hand, Black Friday exists purely to boost sales before the Christmas period kicks in, so it makes sense that retailers use deals and discounts to give shoppers a reason to choose their store. On the other hand, there will always be discounts at any time throughout the year, and these discounts may or may not be on the items you’re searching for.

The real question to answer is how soon do you need the gear, and is a site’s Black Friday deal really a good one? Tools like the the Honey browser add-on automatically scan for voucher codes and show pricing information over a period of time so you’ll know if a retailer’s Black Friday deal is the lowest something has been all year. 

Ultimately, you’ll know yourself if it’s best to snap up a Black Friday offer or wait, but you do run the risk of slimmer pickings if you leave it…

Should I shop in-store or online?

Normally, the answer to this question would be entirely dependent on you, and your desire to traipse around the mall carrying heavy shopping bags. In 2020, however, shopping online isn’t just more convenient, it’s also potentially mandatory depending on where you are in the world and your current pandemic restriction level. And, while we’d always recommend playing big-ticket items like guitars yourself first to make sure they’re right, with modern returns policies being so watertight there’s nothing to stop you trying before you buy from the comfort of your own home. 

What deals can I expect?

Fender CD-60SC All-Mahogany

(Image credit: Fender)

While we’ll each have our own specific items we’re looking out for in 2020, there were some outstanding deals we noticed in 2019 which will give you a flavor of what’s in store. 

For guitarists, there were some superb deals including $400 off guitars across the top-tier Ibanez AZ range at a couple of retailers, big reductions on ESP LTD EC-1000s and Epiphone Les Paul Traditional models going for under $300. 

Keep an eye out for Cyber Monday deals too, which often come in the form of voucher codes; 2019 saw Guitar Center and Musicians’ Friend both offering up to 15% off across their entire sites for qualifying orders. 

In 2020, we’re expecting similar discounts across a range of products. As many people took the opportunity during lockdown to learn an instrument for the first time, we’re expecting a big boom in beginner and entry-level models of guitars and amps, so keep an eye out for those. 

We’ll also be sharing deals on gear for vlogging, streaming and podcasting, so if you’ve ever fancied taking your playing to a wider audience, then Black Friday might just provide the gear you need at a price that makes sense.

How can I prepare for Black Friday? 

To give yourself the best chance of making the most of Black Friday 2020, there are a few things you can do. Firstly, do your research beforehand. This means – on top of the product itself – having a handle on how it’s been priced throughout the year. It’s also worth your time looking at product reviews and buying guides to ensure the thing you think you need will do exactly what you want it to do. 

Signing up for newsletters from the major retailers ensures you’ll be first to hear about any offers or deals, and it’s also well worth following them all on social media channels to snap up any flash deals. Ideally, you want to be in a position where you know what you’re looking for, so if and when it gets reduced, you’re ready to pounce.

Great early-Black Friday sales live now

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Chris Corfield

Chris Corfield is a journalist with over 12 years of experience writing for some of the music world's biggest brands including Orange Amplification, MusicRadar, Guitar World, Total Guitar and Dawsons Music. Chris loves getting nerdy about everything from guitar gear and synths, to microphones and music production hardware.